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Channel Surfing: J.J. Abrams Shops Emerson/O'Quinn Show, Linda Hamilton Talks Chuck, Spartacus, Community, True Lies, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing.

Could Lost's Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson be headed back your televisions? If J.J. Abrams gets his way, they'll be reuniting for a drama project--tentatively entitled Odd Jobs--that Abrams, along with Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, are pitching to the networks. Vulture's Josef Adalain is reporting that the drama, which will also contain a large amount of humor, revolves around "former black-ops agents." It's unknown whether the project is based on any part on the idea that Emerson and O'Quinn had floated a while back in which they'd play suburban hit men. But the fact that Abrams' Bad Robot--and possibly by association Warner Bros. Television--is behind Odd Jobs (or whatever it might eventually be called), is a good sign that the project will at least be picked up to pilot. (Vulture)

AOL Television's Maureen Ryan talks to Linda Hamilton about her role as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski on NBC's Chuck, where the former Terminator and Beauty and the Beast star says she wants to stick around as long as they'll have her. "Well, Mary Bartowski is the absentee mother of Chuck and Ellie and the most that I can really say about her is that ... she is not your ordinary homemaker," said Hamilton. "She comes back into Chuck's life with an agenda and you know, she is definitely a strong, forceful [woman] -- definitely a force to be reckoned with. It ain't all apologies and sentiment, that's for sure. She has her own agenda and it just kind of goes crazy from there. But we like crazy." (TV Squad)

Series lead Andy Whitfield has had to withdraw from Season Two of Starz's Spartacus due to a recurrence of cancer. "It's with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus‚ and all the wonderful people involved," said Whitfield in a statement. "It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far," said Whitfield. No immediate decision has been made about the fate of the series, which delayed production on the second season and instead shot a prequel series (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena)--set to air in January--in order to allow Whitfield the opportunity to undergo treatment. "Right now, we just want to extend our concern and support to Andy and his family," said Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director, Starz Media, in the same press release. "We will address our programming plans at some later date." (Variety, Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

NBC's Community is planning a stop-motion animated Christmas episode in the spirit of those classic Rankin/Bass specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. [Editor: I actually talked to Community creator Dan Harmon and the cast when I was on set last week.] The episode, written by Harmon and Dino Stamatopoulos (who also plays Starburns), will feature the Greendale crew getting animated after Harmon floated the idea for such an episode in an interview over the summer. "It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but, I never anticipated having the ability to do it,” said Harmon. But “Jeff Gaspin at NBC woke up one morning and thought Community should do an animated episode. I was like, ‘Well, that’s weird, because that’s the kind of stuff I’m usually suggesting and guys like him veto.’” (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

ABC is developing a drama series based on James Cameron's 1994 feature film True Lies, which the Avatar director will executive produce. The project, from 20th Century Fox Television and writer/showrunner Rene Echevarria, has a sizable penalty attached to it. (Variety)

Showtime is said to be close to giving a pilot order to Homeland from Fox21 that's based on Israeli drama format Prisoners of War from executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa of FOX's 24. In this iteration, the project will revolve around "a U.S. soldier who was presumed killed in Iraq 10 years ago" who "returns home, but questions arise as to whether he truly was a wartime POW or a member of a sleeper cell sent to cause the next terrorist attack," according to The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, who has an interview with Gordon about the project, likely the first to be ordered by newly minted Showtime entertainment president David Nevins. And Ben Affleck is said to be in conversations to direct the pilot itself. (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed, Variety)

Peter Coyote (FlashForward) has joined the cast of NBC's Law & Order: Los Angeles, where he will recur as the district attorney. (Deadline)'s Denise Martin talks to Lone Star's leading man, James Wolk, about the new FOX ddrama, which launches tonight. "He's a con man who wants to go straight," said Wolk about his character. "He wants to do the right thing. This isn't a guy who leaves one of his wives and then calls his buddy and says, 'Hey man, you're never gonna believe it. I got two chicks.' That's not this guy. This guy really loves these girls. He fully believes that he is madly in love with them. So, he thinks he's fighting for love. I think that is what can make him sympathetic. Yes, he's a sociopath, clearly screws loose. But, nonetheless, someone who thinks he's doing the right thing." (

ABC has given a pilot order to Pan Am, a period drama pilot based on the now-defunct Pam Am that will be set in the 1960s and focus on the flight attendants and pilots of the airline. Project, from Sony Pictures Television, will be written by Jack Orman and will be directed by Thomas Schlamme. (Variety)

Callie Thorne (Rescue Me) will play the lead in USA drama pilot Necessary Roughness, about a female psychologist who is hired by a pro football team as their therapist. "After succeeding beyond expectations, she is sought after by other athletes, musicians, politicians and those living in the spotlight who all want her unique brand of tough love therapy," writes Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. Thorne's casting lifts the contingency on the project, which was written by Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Elsewhere, Rachael Carpani (Cane) has booked the lead in Lifetime drama pilot Against the Wall, where she will play cop Abby Kowalski, who "causes a rift with her three cop brothers when she decides to join the department’s Internal Affairs division." Project, from Universal Cable Prods., is written by Annie Brunner and will be directed by Dean Parisot. (Deadline)

The Hollywood Reporter's Stacey Wilson has an interview with Outsourced executive producer Ken Kwapis in which he responds to allegations of racial stereotypes in the new NBC workplace comedy. "A third of the writing staff is of Indian descent," said Kwapis. "But any story about a culture clash is going to deal with stereotypes on some level. The real question is: Are we trying to perpetuate stereotypes? Absolutely not, we're trying to explore them. We're trying to humanize these characters. This is all about putting a human face on the voice at the other end of the phone line. What frustrates me most is when I hear people who are angry about outsourcing and they hang the problem on the call-center workers themselves. As if the Indian call-center worker has the power to decide to bring jobs there! My hope is that for an audience, the show will allow you to basically go around the world and meet someone who, lo and behold, is fundamentally no different from yourself." (Hollywood Reporter)

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban will appear in three episodes of ABC's Shark Tank as a guest shark. (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

TNT has renewed Memphis Beat for a second season, with ten episodes on tap for 2011. (via press release)

Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) will play Amanda Knox in an upcoming Lifetime telepic based on the real-life murder case. (Variety)

More Doctor Who Adventure games are on the way. The Beeb has commissioned a second series of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, the online series of Who-centric games that feature the voices of series stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. (Broadcast)

Stay tuned.


rockauteur said…
Would rather see a Josh Holloway/Ken Leung cop show than ODD JOBS.

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